Seven habits of woke leaders

Leading by example creates a bigger impact than lecturing others to change, writes author and leadership specialist Nikki Fogden-Moore

Seven habits of woke leaders

Conscious leadership (in both the personal and professional spheres) is vital to creating strong teams, families and companies. Now more than ever, the responsibility of leading by example sits with companies that have been given the charter to make decisions that impact individuals at home as much as at work. As leaders we cannot avoid the spotlight being on our own actions and how we handle unprecedented times with grace and vision. Leadership is about evolution as much as resolution and resilience. Here are seven habits of truly ‘woke’ leaders:

  1. Awake leaders don’t ‘advertise’ the fact

Awareness does not require a badge of honour. It is a private and humbling process that often involves deep reflection, tough lessons and true experience. It is the art of listening and observing rather than announcing. Woke leaders are too busy being themselves to tell you how ‘aware’ they are.

  1. Awake leaders make time for their own wellbeing

As a core way of looking after their own mental, physical and emotional performance, conscious leaders know they should put on their own oxygen masks first. Burnt-out leaders cannot perform. Running a company, a family and a life is like the grand slam of premier sportsmanship. It requires mind/body/soul wellbeing to reduce the effects of stress, improve decision-making and get regular sleep. A healthy heart is the best investment for sustainable success. ‘Woke’ leaders have the self-discipline to maintain their personal wellbeing as part of a positive P&L.

  1. Awake leaders discern without judgment

Observation without projection. I refer to this with my clients as “owling” – one of the most brilliant ways to review a project, person, group or situation. Rather than swooping in and reacting based on triggers and fears in difficult situations, ‘woke’ leaders press pause and take a moment to see it from a higher perspective. Is this going to matter in the long term?  How does this affect the ‘now’, my team, customers, our core delivery? Where are the triage points? What is the next right thing to do? There is no judgment, but rather a more strategic and intuitive alignment to reflect, ascertain and make a decision from a place of informed neutrality.

  1. Awake leaders are kind and compassionate by default

Kindness and empathy are crucial traits of effective woke leaders. They under-stand that individuals and teams around them will have different lives, perspectives and situations they are facing, and not everyone has the tools or resources to hand as many leaders do. Kindness does not require validation. It is the natural balance to create a combined sense of achievement and showing significance.

  1. Awake leaders know when to retreat to hear their own intuition

You will often find a conscious leader quietly taking a moment to themselves, whether it’s 10 seconds or an hour, to review, refi ne and get centred; and to connect with their trifecta of experience, intuition and intellect – three very crucial tools to be used in unison. This means stepping away from the white noise of peer pressure, opinions and the familiar. Pioneers need space to create the small pivots that achieve incredible results. They trust their gut and know how to press pause to clearly discern between that and everything else.

  1. Awake leaders are always curious

How can this be better? What other options are there? How can I evolve? Woke leaders choose to replace fear with curiosity. Not in a reckless way but by understanding that if you keep doing things the same way you will get the same results. Making decisions from a place of ‘what if’ rather than avoidance, doubt, blame and shame. Woke leadership means a commitment to continually learn and be agile.

  1. Awake leaders lead by example

Aware leaders do not lecture. We have all no doubt had to reprogram through the years and learn in our journey of leadership. Overmanaging and over-informing do not create an environment of learning and growth. They de-oxygenate the environment and often shut down performance. Instead, evolved leaders provide a clear framework for the common why/what and a best practice for the how. It’s the art of saying something clearly once, with regular milestones, aka ‘pit stops’, as checkpoints, rather than micromanaging. Empower teams to have input at each stage, and nurture the result with clear KPIs and best practices that ensure quality of time, budget and end delivery along the way.

‘Woke’ leadership is an inside job. It’s a subtle recognition that when we are aligned it provides an incredible place of humility, strength and natural character to cultivate trust and momentum. This is where true co-creation and collaboration can exist. Being a genuine leader is a constant evolution with grace and awareness – it’s progress, not perfection.

Nikki Fogden-Moore is a renowned change leadership specialist. She is a proven expert who is dedicated to putting extraordinary leaders and individuals in the driver’s seat of life and work.